Felix Bautista Martínez, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca

Felix Bautista Martínez, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca

Oaxacan maestro Felix Bautista Martínez specializes in the creation of Yalalag crosses. Using a complicated technique, he applies delicate motifs to the beautiful pieces.

The traditional Yalalag cross originated in Salamanca, Spain and was brought to Mexico by the friars during the colonial period. Over time, the indigenous Oaxacan silversmiths adapted the design and incorporated their own personal styles and elements.

Originally from San Pablo Villa de Mitla, Felix learned his craft when he was very young from a silversmith from Taxco, Guerrero. In 1981 he returned to live in Oaxaca City.

The Yalalag cross was first made in Yalalag, Oaxaca, high in the mountains east of Oaxaca City. There are many variations of the cross's basic design. Very often the center is a winged heart. Pomegranates and birds are favorite designs. The rooster design symbolizes the cock crowing before the denial of Christ by Peter. The winged heart in the center of the necklace is symbolic of the soul ascending to heaven. Felix also makes necklaces by hand, each ring lovingly joined to make the perfect partner to hold a cross.

The Yalalg women wear their crosses on strings of beads with jet, coral, polished seeds or the very rare old trade beads. The cross is said to have been made in Yalalag since the 16th century.

Currently, artisans such as Felix are feeling the pressure from overseas where much of the jewelry sold in Oaxaca is from China. To preserve this art, value must be assigned to the craft and the time required for production of jewelry in this style.

Felix is featured in the folk art collector's bible, "Great Masters of Oaxacan Folk Art," published by Fomento Cultural Banamex.

2 Priv. de Vicente Suárez 117A
Col. Vicente Suárez
Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca
951 516 7010